Just read "Older Americans Are Flocking to Medical Marijuana", and thought, at last, The New York Times is catching up to The American Cannabis Report.
LOL, everyone relax... the Times is leading-edge in all things!
Nevertheless, we're still going to sit on the kitchen floor and bang on these pots and pans until everyone gets it: cannabis is a dream solution for older Americans and what ails them.
To begin, let's state clearly that Nanner and Poppa Fred are probably not smoking a joint and watching Jeopardy. They might be vaping because it's kind of fun, but most likely they're taking an oil/sublingual, or perhaps some type of edible (cut them in half, Fred's got a sweet tooth).
Which is why, we suspect, there's been much tighter adherence to "don't call after 9 pm" lately... the folks are sleeping like babies.
And if you think they're afraid of getting busted at their age, you'd be wrong. We double dog dare any copper to get his picture in the paper for arresting a geriatric patient with chronic condition.
Let's look at just a few chronic* elderly health issues where cannabis is being explored. ( * The National Council on Aging says that "Ninety-two percent of US seniors have at least one chronic health condition.")
Chronic pain: After years on the factory floor, or behind the desk, or just fighting the effects of gravity and oxidation, an estimated 30% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts 12 weeks or longer. "According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, 100 million Americans experience chronic pain conditions, not including an additional 55 million with pain from diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. (Also, Chronic pain can affect as many as eight of 10 American adults._ Chronic pain results in difficulty in daily function and is a cause of poor sleep for 20 percent of people. It is estimated to carry a yearly financial strain on the economy upwards of $550 billion.
From Practical Pain Management:
"A growing body of clinical research and a history of anecdotal evidence support the use of cannabis for the relief of some types of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain, and spasticity (ie, stiffness or tightness) associated with multiple sclerosis.
In a recent comprehensive review of existing data on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, the National Academies of Science concluded that adult patients with chronic pain who were treated with cannabis/cannabinoids were more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms. They rated these effects as “modest.”
Studies also suggest some efficacy for cancer-related pain, migraines, and fibromyalgia, and other pain conditions. However, how different species, routes of administration, and doses differ in their effect is less clear, and more research is needed."
Most important observation: cannabis is being strongly considered as an alternative to opioid painkillers, which are highly addictive and can be deadly - whereas no one in the 10,000 years of cannabis use has ever died from a cannabis overdose).
“We are learning that the higher the dose of opioids people are taking, the higher the risk of death from overdose,” said Dr. Daniel Clauw, ... a professor of pain management anesthesiology at the University of Michigan Medical School." A 2016 study in which Dr. Clauw was a researcher, concluded that cannabis: a) Decreased side effects from other medications, b) Improved quality of life and c) Reduced use of opioids (on average) by 64%.
Dementia: Dementia and the similar Alzheimer's Disease are simply taking a terrible toll on the elderly and their families. It is believed that delivering essential cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp to the body's natural endocannabinoid system can moderate common dementia symptoms such as agitation and aggression (the pleasant upside to the cannabis high); alleviate some effects of vascular dementia and resulting chronic pain; and encourage appetite to the benefit of dementias associated with nutrition deficits.
This article "Cannabis and Dementia" from the Alzheimer's Society of Great Britain, offers some promising information. Read it.
Diabetes: "Diabetes is a group of diseases attributed to high blood glucose levels resulting from defects in the body's production and use of insulin.The pancreas-produced hormone insulin controls the body's glucose. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. People with type 1 are given insulin via injection or a pump. About 5% of all adult diabetics have type 1."
In 2015, the American Diabetes Association found that 9.4% of Americans, or ~ 30 Million, have diabetes. Common diabetes symptoms are obesity, inflammation, and (again) chronic pain. In particular, the neuroprotective qualities found in cannabinoids help control inflammation, and thus reduce the chronic pain associated with diabetes.
Another interesting finding is cannabis' effect on insulin levels.
"Murray Mittleman, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School has been quoted saying, “The most important finding is that current users of marijuana appeared to have better carbohydrate metabolism than nonusers.”The research that led to this statement included over 4,600 men and women. 49% of subjects had smoked cannabis at least once during their lifetime, and 12% smoked the herb frequently. It was found that current cannabis users had fasting insulin levels that were 16% lower than former users and those who had never smoked. Cannabis smokers also displayed a 17% reduction in another measure of insulin resistance. Mittleman also stated, “Their fasting insulin levels were lower, and they appeared to be less resistant to insulin produced by their body to maintain a normal blood-sugar level.”
In another promising development (see "How a Tiny Island Nation Could Use Cannabis to Disrupt Diabetes Care", Dr. Philip Blair is leading a study in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, which is has developed an alarming rate of diabetes.
"Among Vanuatu’s nearly 270,000 inhabitants, the diabetes rate has risen to an estimated 13%, making it one of the country’s biggest ongoing medical threats. According to Dr. Philip Blair, diabetes director for Phoenix Life’s medical advisory council, the studies will provide “a great opportunity” to investigate the relationship between diet and lifestyle, diabetes, and medicines like insulin and CBD. If all goes well, the project could cut the cost of diabetes care considerably."
Keep an eye on Dr. Blair, Dear Readers - New York Times writers have their work cut out for them trying to keep up.
Image source: singlemomtism